Golf Handicap

Learn everything you need you know about the World Handicap System, your golf handicap by using our easy to understand guides.

What is a golf handicap?

A golf handicap is the measurement of your golfing ability and allows you to play against other golfers on a fair basis. It’s therefore an excellent measurement of how your game is improving and in an ideal world your handicap should always be reducing or staying the same – we did say ‘ideal’.

It is based on the number of strokes you take above a ‘scratch golf’, someone who plays off a zero handicap. Each time you play a round, your nett score is worked out on the total number of shots you took minus your golf handicap.

 

The handicap calculation does not penalise you for very bad days either and by using the buffer zones, your handicap will be adjusted after each round.

 

Within a round of golf, there a different ways to play, from stroke play to match play, greensomes, foursomes, but whether you play as an individual or part of a team, your playing golf handicap is used.

 

 

The World Handicap System - A Global Approach to your Golf Handicap

Up until 2020, almost every country had their own approach to calculating your golf handicap. However, the RandA and the USGA have been working together to unifiy the complete system into the WHS – the World Handicap System.

 

 

In 2020, we will see countries worldwide adopt this approach with potentially significant changes from some countries. 

 

The Benefits of the World Handicap System

 

1) The WHS uses both the USGA Course Rating and the Slope Rating systems to evaluate the difficulty of the course based on the tee that the players use. 

 

2) The idea of a Course Handicap has also been introduced. Before each round, the golfer receives (or calculates) their handicap for that particular course and tee. 

 

3) The WHS also introduce Playing Conditions Calculations which adjusts the expected player’s scores (during course competitions) based on the course condition. The PCC has a range from -1 (when the course is playing easier) to +3 (when the circumstances make the course more difficult).

 

4) The maximum golf handicap has now been standardised at 54 – representing a three-over-par on each hole. 

 

5) The WHS has also introduced the Nett Double Bogey Adjustment which limits the maximum score on any hole to Nett double bogey ensuring that bad holes don’t impact your handicap too severely. The Stableford scoring approach works in a similar matter by the player scoring zero points for terrible holes. It hurts, but it does not ruin the entire round.

 

6) In the end, the golf handicap calculation changes are designed to ensure that your Handicap Index truly reflects your ability and that it gives you the strokes you need to do well and maximise your enjoyment. It might help reduce the “bandits.”

THE CONGU APPROACH

Your Golf Handicap

Depending where you play in the world, your golf handicap

It is based on the number of strokes you take above a ‘scratch golf’, someone who plays off a zero handicap. Each time you play a round, your nett score is worked out on the total number of shots you took minus your golf handicap.

 

The handicap calculation does not penalise you for very bad days either and by using the buffer zones, your handicap will be adjusted after each round.

 

Within a round of golf, there a different ways to play, from stroke play to match play, greensomes, foursomes, but whether you play as an individual or part of a team, your playing golf handicap is used.

 

But first you need your initial starting Handicap.

Your initial Handicap Calculation

To calculate your initial handicap, an average of your first three rounds is used, from play on courses of 18 holes.

 

Once 3 scorecards have been entered or submitted a calculation is made for your initial golf handicap.

 

The calculation takes your individual hole scores, uses them with each holes par. The maximum, for initial handicap purposes, for each hole is 2 over par – so the calculation levels your score out to maximum values (if you played badly on a particular hole.) – which allows for a couple of bad holes (Yes, we do that too!).

 

Your Gross Score is used as an initial guide, this is your total score (adjusted) for the round minus the SSS for the course (see below for SSS).

e.g If you scored a total of 99, maybe this was adjusted to 98 as you scored a 6 on a par 3 (max allowed is 2 over par) – so if the course SSS is 71 your Gross Score is 98-71 which is 27.

 

This is how much you played over expected Par, this is divided between your 3 scores.

 

So your starting Handicap = 9 (27/3=9).

 

Our Handicap allows for a Men’s Handicap of 36 for handicap purposes but should be limited to 28 for men. In other countries, the maximum handicap is 53.5!

The SSS - Standard Scratch Score

While the Par for the course is important, your handicap is calculated using the SSS or the Standard Scratch Score of the course. The reason is that while the Par for different courses might be the same, some courses are more difficult than others and this difference is shown within the SSS.

 

The SSS value can typically range between 67 and 74.

The Course Slope Rating

Some courses and scoring also use the SLOPE rating, this like the SSS, is used to help adjust play where the course you are playing is easy or difficult.


For example, your local course (we guess) is probably not as difficult to play as Carnoustie (try it for yourself). So Carnoustie will carry a higher slope rating, which is then used to level out your handicap calculation, giving you a bit more credit.

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